Analysis: Chief strategy officer? Isn’t that the CEO’s job?

Chess board

Strategy directors are de rigueur, with Asos, JLP and M&S all making big hires. But are they “a fashion accessory”, as one chief executive claims, or a necessary exec role in today’s fast-changing climate?

Asos is on the hunt for one, it was John Lewis Partnership’s new chairman Sharon White’s first appointment upon taking the helm, and Marks & Spencer has brought non-executive Katie Bickerstaffe on to the operating board for the role.

Chief strategy officers and strategy directors have gone from being a relatively niche position on retail boards to the new executive role de rigueur.

At the time of Bickerstaffe’s appointment earlier this month, Marks & Spencer’s chief executive Steve Rowe said her “experience in leading roles at UK food and non-food retailers and track record of delivering large-scale change will be invaluable as we accelerate our transformation”.

And JLP’s White said Nina Bhatia, appointed in the newly created role of executive director of strategy and commercial development, would “play a crucial role as part of the newly formed Future Partnership executive team”.

So why is a board member dedicated to strategy now needed by today’s retailers?

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